Don’t Forget to Check Internet Explorer

Anyone who has worked on the web knows that different browsers display pages differently, and that Internet Explorer can be a problem. It doesn’t really follow the rules. A site that looks fine in a standards compliant browser (Firefox, Safari, Chrome) can look downright broken in Internet Explorer. To complicate matters each version has its own set of issues. For Internet Explorer, I limit myself to checking how a site looks in IE 6, 7, and 8. Since I work on a Mac, the options for testing a site in all these browsers (IE for Mac is completely different) comes down to:

Using an online browser preview site
I can see how this might work for some people but for me it’s too slow. If I’m trying to figure out what went wrong I want to be able to jump back and forth to check my changes. It’s also just a picture of  what the site would look like, not how it behaves.

Using a PC
This is what I’ve been doing up until now. I have an extra computer, a Dell Inspiron 5100 using IETester. IETester lets you preview IE 6,7,8 on a PC (even on a PC you can’t have all three versions installed). Using an extra computer works, but sometimes I can get pretty far into a project before I remember to check.

Installing virtualization software
This creates a virtual computer on your Intel Mac. Once it’s installed you can run Windows on your Mac. There are two contenders, Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion. According to, in a side-by-side comparison Parallels looks the clear winner.

So I ordered a copy of Windows XP Home Edition and Parallels Desktop 5. Parallels installed fine, but getting Windows XP to install was problematic, and once it was finally installed doing updates would cause disk errors. I don’t know how many times I tried to get it to work, or how many support forum posts I read, but it took up most of my day.

As a test, to see if it was Parallels or XP that was the problem, I downloaded the trial version of VMware Fusion. XP installed on the first try, and all my updates so far have worked without a hitch. Zero errors, wow that was a huge difference.

Now I’ve got XP running on my Mac, IETester for previewing sites, and if something comes up where I need to install a Windows program, I can.

Anyone want to buy a sweet used Dell?